Tuesday, November 12, 2002

"Don't Get Cocky, Kid!"-Han's advice to Luke would well apply to the GOP as they prepare to take back the Senate later in the month. Josh Marshall has a slightly-left-slanted but valid point in this Sunday post.
If the Republicans see this as a mandate for their domestic policy agenda they're fools. Yet I think they will see it that way. Indeed, they're telling reporters they see it that way. There is going to be heavy pressure -- and pressure not bucked by the White House -- to push through a lot of very conservative and not-particularly-popular legislation. And that will hurt him.
Only if the legislation they push through is unpopular to swing voters. The next paragraph is where Marshall misses the boat.
Basically, we're still in the same ideological world we were a few weeks ago. A mix of a wartime mood, a personally popular president, and a poor Democratic campaign allowed the Republicans to pick up seats. But an unfettered political and policy-making hand for this White House will do a lot of things that cut against where the country is politically. And that will create problems for the president in 2004.
We're also in the same legislative world we were in two weeks ago, except that we'll have Republican committee chairmen in a few weeks. The biggest change will be in judicial nominations, where nominees who were defeated or bottled-up in committee can be passed on to the floor. However, once there, any legislation passed through the newly constituted committees will face the Democrat's best friend, the filibuster. Even if the Republicans have 51 or 52 (if they win Louisiana) votes, they'll still have to bring a dozen Democrats on board (at least 8 or 9 plus a few more to allow for RINO defections) to pass a cloture resolution. Prior to this election, they needed about 15 Democrats to get past a filibuster, now they need 12. That's three less moderate Democrats to bring aboard, but that going to insure that any bill or nominee getting through the Senate will have the OK of a lot of Democrats. If the Republicans had just regained the House, that would have changed things, for the House is much more winner-take-all than the Senate is. Senate rules allow a determined minority, especially one that can get 41 votes to block cloture, to make life miserable for the majority. If there are issues that are "not particularly popular," the Democrats can block them without having to pay a price. If they are blocking popular issues, then the GOP can put their feet to the fire and let them filibuster. I've yet to see someone do this-if you've got a 58-42 vote and the public is 65-35 in your favor on this issue, let them filibuster; not the gentleman's filibuster where they don't bring up a bill without 60 votes, but an honest-to-goodness, 24/7, Robert Byrd reciting the entirety of Robert's Rules of Order at 3AM filibuster. Let them cancel Book TV on C-SPAN2 for a couple of weeks while the Senate is in continuous session. Let the leftist sound bites from the Democratic obstructionists flow over the airwaves, as well as the GOP message that this is a popular bill that has bipartisan support. Let the telephone switchboards light up in protest. Let thoughtful neolibs (no, that's not an oxymoron) point out the error in their ways. Let the blogfire fly. Sounds like a plan.

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